According to the World Health Organization, 1.3 million people in the United States are injured by prescription medication errors every year. On average, one person dies daily from this sort of negligence. Globally, medication errors cost $42 billion a year.
Prescription errors can occur in a general practice or hospital environment. While most do not cause fatalities, they undermine the quality of healthcare and threaten the safety of patients.
These types of errors are increasing all the time. Doctors have access to more than 10,000 prescription medications. Combine that with the fact that more than 30 percent of American adults take five or more medications, and the risk of making a medication error rises exponentially.
If you or a loved one were injured by a drug medication error, contact the medical malpractice lawyers of Nadrich & Cohen, LLP now. We will provide a free case evaluation. Call us at 1-800-718-4658, use the live chat or complete the “Do I Have A Case?” form on this page.
Causes of Medication Errors
Medication errors can occur at any step throughout the process, from prescription to consumption of the drug: prescribing, ordering, dispensing, preparing, administering or consuming. This means the doctor, pharmacist or nurse could all be at fault if there are errors at any point along this chain.
According to the National Institutes of Health, dosage errors account for more than 50 percent of medical errors. Adverse drug events are also common and can occur when a person reacts negatively to a medication, causing bodily harm. Adverse drug events account for 700,000 ER visits and 100,000 hospitalizations annually.
Pharmacist dispensation errors are more common than you might think. A study that assessed the accuracy of 50 pharmacies in six cities showed that of the 4,481 prescriptions reviewed, the error rate was 1.7 percent. Pharmacists sometimes dispense the wrong drug due to “look-alike” and “sound-alike” errors. These mistakes occur when pharmacists confuse a drug for another one that looks or sounds similar.
In California and Oregon, a study was conducted to review the prescribing practices of pharmacies. Each pharmacy studied made an average of 324 dispensing errors each year.
Pharmacists have access to many warnings and safeguards to prevent such errors from occurring. Counseling, triple-checks, safety campaigns and proper medication labeling have helped but have not entirely eradicated the threat of prescription medication errors.
The United States is suffering from an opioid epidemic. Opioid injury and death rates are increasing each year in both inpatient and outpatient settings. To appease patients, some doctors have a tendency to overprescribe medications rather than treating the root cause of the pain. Prescribing opioids for long-term pain can lead to dependency in nearly 25 percent of patients.
Were you or a loved one seriously injured due to a negligent prescription error? If so, call 1-800-718-4658 now to speak with a medication error legal specialist. We are aggressive injury attorneys. We fight to get clients maximum compensation for their injuries.
Doctors can also play a role in causing medication errors during the prescribing process. Most errors involve writing down or entering the wrong Drug, Dose, Frequency or Duration.
Poor handwriting and incomplete prescriptions are frequently the cause of such errors. Human error , however, accounts for nearly all prescription errors. Miscalculations and poor training can cause doctors to prescribe an incorrect dosage.
Staff shortages at hospitals can also contribute to prescription errors. When staff is limited, nurses and doctors are overworked. This environment leads to increased stress and fatigue. Under these conditions, a nurse or doctor can accidentally give the incorrect medication to the wrong patient or administer the wrong dose. Even though medical staff are often pressed for time, taking a few extra seconds to verify the prescription and dosage can prevent serious injuries and even save lives.
Communication errors are also common in hospital environments. Nurses are frequently responsible for the care of dozens of patients each shift. At the same time, each patient may also have several doctors coordinating their care. Making sure to coordinate and review all treating physicians’ prescriptions for possible drug interactions is crucial to patient safety. Therefore, it is helpful to implement a system that provides checks and balances.
Preventing Medication Errors
For those starting opioid therapy, communication is key. Doctors need to establish goals with patients and ensure that the benefits of opioid use outweigh the risks. Patients need to understand the risks of overdose and be sure that they know how to manage the medication. The goal of opioid use is to reduce pain for a limited amount of time and should not be used as a long-term pain remedy. The patient should be assessed by the prescribing physician for dependency on a regular basis throughout opioid treatment.
Hospital pharmacists have been shown to identify and reduce medication errors. Studies have shown that adverse events in hospitals decrease when prescriptions are reviewed by a pharmacist.
The wrongful death attorneys of Nadrich & Cohen, LLP have the experience and resources to take on even the largest hospital, pharmacy chain or drug manufacturer. Call us now for a free, no-pressure consultation. Call 1-800-718-4658 now, or use the live chat feature to connect with one of our intake specialists.
The National Institutes of Health recommends the use of automated prescribing systems. These systems can help nurses and doctors dispense the correct medicine and dosage, which reduces drug dispensation errors. This computerized device has been proven to reduce adverse drug effects and even reduce the amount of time patients stay in the hospital.
Education, training and feedback are probably the best ways to prevent medication errors. Medical students and new doctors should be properly trained appropriately and provided access to online tools and references to help prevent medication errors.
Injured by A Prescription Medication Error?
A prescription medication error by your doctor, pharmacist or other medical staff could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact the medical malpractice lawyers of Nadrich & Cohen, LLP now for a free case evaluation.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. One of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers can review your case and evaluate your claim. Best of all, we offer a free and 100% confidential consultation.
If you lost a loved one due to a prescription medication error, contact our law office now. We have pursued many wrongful death claims on behalf of medical malpractice victims’ families. Don’t wait as there are very strict time limits for filing a medical malpractice claim in California. Call 1-800-718-4658 now to speak with a medication error specialist.